Opinion Brief

Could Medicare really destroy America?

Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) says "if you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye." Does he have a point?

The video: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) represents a retiree-heavy district in South Florida, so it's not surprising that in public meetings this week he was asked about his support for a bill that would turn Medicare into a voucher system. West, a Tea Party favorite, didn't shy away with his answer: "I gotta tell you something: If you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye." (See video below.) Any truth there?The reaction: Medicare is immensely popular in his district, so it's curious politics to accuse your constituents of "contributing to the country's downfall," says Travis Waldron in ThinkProgress. But West has his facts wrong, too. The GOP budget he supports does nothing to lower health care costs; it raises them by $34 trillion over 75 years, and shifts that burden to seniors. Letting insurance companies compete for our seniors' health dollars may not poll well, but "like it or not, saving America will require unpopular ideas," says Barry Fagin in The Colorado Springs Gazette. Medicare and Medicaid are "hideous monsters that will destroy everything in their path," and we can't afford to keep them alive. Watch the clip:

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